Restaurant tech company Choco announced today it has raised $100 million in in Series B funding led by growth equity firm Left Lane Capital. Insight Partners along with existing investors Coatue Management and Bessemer Venture Partners also participated in the round, according to a press release sent to The Spoon. Choco has raised $171.5 million to date.
The company’s mobile app effectively digitizes the relationship between restaurants and their suppliers, allowing the two groups to chat with one another through the app. Restaurants can place orders directly through the Choco app as well as view and edit all order sheets. Choco also released a new feature at the beginning of 2021 specifically designed for multi-unit restaurants to give them a more comprehensive overview of not just what they’re ordering but where it comes from and who is in charge of that relationship. At the time, Choco’s Global Industry Advisor, Chelsea van Hooven, said multi-unit restaurants make up about 40 percent of Choco’s current user base.
The company’s original pitch was around fighting food waste in the restaurant industry. While that remains a part of Choco’s overall benefits for restaurants, wasted time and money are also now part of the overall package of benefits the company is pitching. Replacing siloed paper-and-pen processes with digital ones, where all data is viewable from a single place, has the potential to cut hidden costs in the back of house and in doing so improve restaurant margins.
Digital was largely seen as a “nice-to-have” feature before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. Now, many claim that digitizing operations is a “must have,” and that those who don’t will wind up getting left behind.
While that may be true for large chains (think McDonald’s or Chipotle), it remains to be seen how much this full digitization of the back of house can actually help smaller independent restaurants. In other words, we have yet to see whether the cost to implement and run technology is worth the returns it brings to these smaller restaurants.
Choco says demand for its platform is up and partly driven by the pandemic pushing more restaurants to go digital. The company currently has over 10,000 active restaurants and suppliers on its platform. It will use the new funding to expand within its six current markets: the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Austria, and Belgium. The company will also expand into several new markets, and has plans to double its head count by end of the year.